Iranian Defense Ministry calls on London to pay debt

September 11, 2020 - 17:45

TEHRAN — Iran’s Defense Ministry has called on London to pay its debt to Tehran in order to assuage the discontent felt by the Iranian government and people toward Britain.

In a statement on Thursday, the ministry pointed to recent remarks by British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace who conceded Britain’s debt. “There’s no doubt that the UK is indebted to Iran,” the statement read.

“The Defense Ministry is firmly and seriously seeking to secure the rights of the Iranian nation,” it added.

Wallace has acknowledged for the first time that he is actively seeking to pay a debt to the Iranian government owed over a decades-old arms deal to secure the release of British dual nationals including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

He assured lawyers acting for the families that the government was exploring every legal avenue to pay the debt, which for the first time he formally acknowledged the government owes, The Guardian reported last week.

The UK is thought to owe as much as £400m to the Iranian government arising from the non-delivery of Chieftain tanks ordered by the late Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

International arbitration in 2008 ruled the UK owed the debt, but in subsequent protracted court battles, lawyers acting for International Military Services, the Ministry of Defense’s now-defunct arms sales agency, have questioned not only the debt’s size but at times whether any debt was payable.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said last week that Britain’s debt to Iran has no connection to the case of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian national who is jailed in Iran, and other dual nationals imprisoned in the country.

“The British government has a definite 40-year long debt to Iran and it doesn’t matter whether a British official acknowledges this debt or not,” Khatibzadeh said.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran, through different communication lines and in all talks that it has had with the British side, has emphasized that this definite debt must be paid by the British government and this issue is not related to any other issue,” he said.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 41, has been detained in Iran for more than four years on charges of trying to orchestrate a soft overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

The prosecutor general of Tehran had stated in October 2017 that she was being held for running “a BBC Persian online journalism course which was aimed at recruiting and training people to spread propaganda against Iran.”


Leave a Comment

2 + 16 =